Emiliano Aguilar ’15 – The trip is nothing like what I expected! I have never traveled outside my own country and just expected Ireland to be another country like the United States and the rest of the Western world.
Our final day in the rustic beauty of Inis Mor was filled with exploring the rocky hillsides of green grass and endless stone fences. Before departing on a ferry for Galway, we were allowed to explore this wonderful landscape one last time. As I sat on the ferry, preparing for the inevitable motion sickness, I started thinking about the Aran islands in context to the immersion trip. Joyce’s work stresses a rejection of the past. He favors a “cosmopolitan Ireland” as opposed to the “primitive Ireland” we explored on the island. During our summer reading, we encountered a protagonist in “The Dead” named Gabriel. Much of his conversation with fellow academic Miss Ivors centers around what she perceives as his rejection of his own native culture. Like my peer Ryan Horner discusses, Joyce studies should not just focus on Dublin, but Joyce’s portrayals of the less refined “Irishness” seen in the west.
Upon arriving back to the mainland on Ireland, we took a bus to Galway and visited some sites around the city. Most notably and relevant to the course we saw the childhood home of Nora Barnacle, James Joyce’s wife. While outside the museum, which was closed due to austerity cuts removing funding from many public institutions like museums and libraries, Prof. Brewer gave a lecture on Nora’s childhood, events that influenced her relationship with Joyce and his works. However, the greatest part of the trip was approaching as we made our way via train to Dublin.
Our arrival to Dublin began with an amazing tour by the energetic and knowledgable guide. He himself was a university student, who toured us around Dublin. Much of his knowledge revolved around the strong currents of political and religious conflict in Irish history. As he shared his stories, some humorous and even more tragic stories, I was enthralled in his ability to tell stories. He referred to events bluntly such as the comic history and jokes behind the amazing parliament building and the Irish parliament, which voted to abolish itself. He was knowledgable about sources of English imperialism and gave us the history behind Dublin Castle and the Easter rebellion of 1916.Thanks to his strong amount of energy in his storytelling, I am anxious to begin exploring the large city and witnessing the legacy of centuries of the conflicts throughout the city.